Over the last year, the Bodleian Libraries has been working on a JISC-funded project to create a library induction for mobile devices. The University of Oxford has over 100 libraries, which can be confusing for new students. The mobile library induction will help new students get to know their libraries and the services offered by them. The induction is called ‘Library Assistant’ and is intended to run alongside those inductions that take place in person at each individual library. Library Assistant should complement these face-to-face inductions rather than replace them.
The advantage of having the induction available for mobile use is that students can access the information at any time, wherever they are. Many people already use mobile phones and tablets and it is predicted that this use will continue to increase over the next few years. Making library services available via a mobile induction increases the libraries’ services to students. Not everybody has a mobile device though, which is why Library Assistant is also available via desktops and laptops.
It is worth noting that Library Assistant is aimed at undergraduate students but this does not stop it being helpful for postgraduate students who are new to Oxford. A lot of the information is still valuable for those studying a postgraduate course. Some of the exceptional details in Library Assistant which are not necessarily relevant to Nuffield College Library users are covered in the ‘worth noting’ section.
What does Library Assistant cover?
The screenshot below shows you the homepage and main menu of Library Assistant.
The induction tells you which libraries to use for the subject you are reading, including opening times and location. There is a section to help you understand how to interpret your reading list, which involves understanding references and where to find those books and journals.
There is guidance on how to find books in the library, how to borrow, renew, and return those books. There is also help on how to access electronic material such as e-books and e-journals. You can also find help on library inductions and tours and support for students with disabilities.
Library Assistant also provides help on computers, WiFi and passwords and Printing Photocopying and Scanning (PCAS). Parts of these sections do not apply to Nuffield College Library because they are aimed at the central Bodleian Libraries. There is more information on this in the ‘worth noting’ section below.
Because Library Assistant is aimed at undergraduate students at the University, there is some guidance that is not relevant to Nuffield College Library. Because Nuffield is a postgraduate college, it is not included in the ‘Which libraries to use?‘ section. Whilst the rest of the Library Assistant mobile induction can be very helpful to Nuffield College students new to Oxford, this is one limitation worth noting when using the site.
This is a system used by nearly all of the Bodleian Libraries (by Bodleian Libraries, we mean the University’s main libraries such as the Bodleian, Sackler, Law Library, Radcliffe Science Library and other lending libraries such as the Social Science Library). The University’s college libraries, which includes Nuffield, do not use PCAS. Nuffield has its own printing, photocopying and scanning service. This section of Library Assistant will still be useful if you visit one of the Bodleian Libraries but does not apply to Nuffield College Library.
Nuffield College Library only has networked computers designed to connect to the internet and do not have programmes such as Word or Excel installed. For this reason, it is not necessary to log on to our computers with your barcode and Bodleian Libraries password as the induction details. If you visit one of the Bodleian Libraries, however, this information will be essential for you to use their computers.
The computers, Wi-Fi and password section also advises how to connect to the Bodleian Libraries Wi-Fi. Nuffield College Library does not connect to the Bodleian Libraries Wi-Fi because the Wi-Fi does not extend to college libraries. Nuffield College’s library’ wi-fi includes Eduroam, OWL, and Nuffield WLAN. Of course, if you visit any of the Bodleain Libraries though, the computer, WiFi and password section will be very helpful for you.
Library Assistant will inevitably be an excellent tool for students who are new to the University of Oxford and its libraries. It also holds value for current students who are looking for information they may have forgotten or not come across before. Despite being aimed at undergraduates, Nuffield College Library users will find Library Assistant useful. Being able to use the service outside of library opening hours will ensure students can find the information they need.